Assessing the Sustainability Performance of Sustainability Management Software

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Companies have made considerable progress in assessing the sustainability of their processes and products, including the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. However, it is surprising that little attention has been given to the sustainability performance of software products. For this article, we chose a case study approach to explore the extent, to which software manufacturers have considered sustainability criteria for their products. We selected a manufacturer of sustainability management software on the assumption that they would be more likely to integrate elements of sustainability performance in their products. In the case study, we applied a previously developed set of criteria for sustainable software (SCSS) using a questionnaire and experiments, to assess a web-based sustainability management software product regarding its sustainability performance. The assessment finds that despite a sustainability conscious manufacturer, a systematic assessment of sustainability regarding software products is missing in the case study. This implies that sustainability assessment for software products is still novel, corresponding knowledge is missing and suitable tools are not yet being widely applied in the industry. The SCSS presents a suitable approach to close this gap, but it does require further refinement, for example regarding its applicability to web-based software on external servers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number88
Issue number3
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 19.09.2018

Bibliographical note

We thank the Research Group Informatics and Sustainability at the University of Zurich, the Öko-Institut e.V. in Berlin, the Institute for Software Systems at the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld and the Centre of Sustainability Management at Leuphana University Lüneburg. The case study would not have been possible without the help of WeSustain GmbH, we thank Niclas Schwarz and Jessica Warrings for access to the ESM tool and answering the questionnaires.